10 June 2009

In Short: Gargantuan and Super-Duper Awesome Short Movie Reviews!

I'm just now recovering (and I use that word mildly) from a 5-day ginormous headache-o that has driven me sorta in the park of crazy. But now with the weather in Minnesota turning towards the rainy side of things, I feel like I'm getting my mojo back. These are some flicks that I've been meaning to write about for a while, but haven't had the gusto; and now, I'm just so tired of seeing them labeled 'draft' that I've bundled all the semi-reviews together into this holy-crap-this-is-totally-rad-and-brilliantly-worded review machine of awesomeness. Prepare to be amazed by my articulate writing skills and entirely original opinion of these hard-to-fine, completely obscure masterpieces. Come back later for some actual meat, like a Drag Me to Hell review, or Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. I still have a bunch of other titles to catch up on, like Angels & Demons and Up. Okay, maybe not a "bunch", but I still feel guilty. Anywho, hope you're all having a good day. Cheeri-o.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
starring Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Michael Douglas, Emma Stone, Breckin Meyer
written by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore
directed by Mark Waters

release date: 01 May 2009

New Line Cinema, Rated PG-13

There's Frakking Worse Things

So how did a movie fare with a bloke who doesn't like either of its two leads nor isn't a fan of romantic comedies? Well, alright-ish. There were plenty of laughs, many of them I think unintentional because I laughed more often than the half-packed theater. Basically, McConaughey's agent was able to snab him another role where he gets to kiss and caress many a hot woman (but this time a freakin' legion), but with a script that 'creatively' adds a Christmas Story-twist to it. McConaughey is Connor Mead, a guy who got his heart ripped once, and through tutelage of his deceased uncle (Douglas), learned the way of picking up women, having a jolly good shag, and dumpin' them later; a good existence, until three ghosts - past, present, future - show him his errors and hiccups, to try to point out that, 'hey, love is important, too, asshole!' As expected, his childhood sweetheart (Garner) is his destined companion, but can Connor change his bastardy ways to win her hand? I'll admit right now I was initially interested in the title, but there's nothing really here to appreciate; the performances are completely phoned in, worse than what I imagine people perceive Keanu Reeves in his 'performances', and the script is basically average. There's basically four reasons to see Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: 1) hot women for the guys and a shirtless McConaughey (again) for the girls; 2) boyfriend wins points with girlfriend; the supporting cast outshines our principal leads; and 4) it's better than Made of Honor (I apologize, I'm never going to get over how bad that was). Overall, if one must experience all that is McConaughey, this ones best left for cable or DVD rental.

Lady Vengeance
starring Lee Young Ae, Choi Min-sik

written by
Jeong Seo-kyeong & Park Chan-wook
directed by Park Chan-wook
release date: 29 July 2005
CJ Entertainment, 112 mins.

Pretty Frakk
in' Good

Superior to
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, but not quite reaching the awesome levels of Oldboy, Lady Vengeance is nonetheless a very interesting revenge tale that keeps your eyes glued to the screen. Wrongly-convicted Lee Geum-ja (beautifully played by Lee Young Ae) for the death of a young child, Geum-ja is released from prison for her supposed 'spiritual transformation'. However, that pretense is pretty much a facade as she's hellbent on exacting revenge on the person who set her up and truthfully killed the boy. But the interesting thing about Lady Vengeance that separates it from other revenge tales is what happens the last forty minutes (Spoilers follow): she, with the help of a police officer who believes in her innocence, recruits the families of all the children this man has hurt and killed, and leaves the mans fate in their hands. As far as I know, it's the first time I've watched a group of people collude in taking out revenge on a common enemy, as far as the whole children situation is concerned.

Director Park Chan-wook's usual sense of stunning cinematography is once again at work here, as is his time/place jumping, although it's far more restrained than his first effort in the trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance). There are some pacing issues, but nothing that is too nagging; similar to Mr. Vengeance, there are plenty of abrupt flashbacks to Lee's days in prison, but at least these bits are interesting and actually add layers to the story. Score-wise, I can honestly say I can't remember a single note, even furthering the awesomeness that is Oldboy in that it really has everything a revenge story should have. Lady Vengeance has a lot going for it, from its stellar cast to its awesome script. If there's any areas to fault, the captivating performances and interesting story more than makes up for any lagging moments.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop
starring Kevin James, Keirr O'Donnell, Jayma Mays

written by Kevin James & Nick Bakay

directed by Ste
ve Carr
release date: 16 January 2009
Columbia Pictures, 91 mins., Rated PG

There's Frakking Worse Things

Paul Blart: Mall Cop
is one of those movies you don't have much to say about it. As a comedy, it works; there's moments of simple chuckles, and every once in a great while there's something that will really make you laugh. But sadly, for the most part, there's nothing significant about the movie to make it really worthwhile, let alone a DVD purchase (seriously, this title was a very good seller at work, nearly as good as Gran Torino's selling). If there's one thing that I would give kudos to this January comedy, it would be the casting. Kevin James (TV: King of Queens) is completely likable and relatable, and Kayma Mays (TV: Heroes) is simply adorable as Blart's love interest. Additionally, the Alan Rickman/Die Hard-like character Veck Sims, played by keirr O'Donnell (Wedding Crashers) is friggin' awesome, and the true highlight performance of the movie. Overall, it is an enjoyable comedy, but compared to this year's other mall cop flick, Observe & Report, it doesn't nearly carry as many laughs (and that's saying something, when I wasn't as in-love with that title as much as my friends seem to be). A decent if unspectacular family comedy that has its moments but for the most part is just...meh.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
starring Song
Kang-ho, Shin Ha-kyum, Bae Doona
written by Park Chan-wook, Lee Jae-sun, Lee Mu-yeong, Lee Yong-jong

directed by Park Chan-wook

release date: 29 March 2002
CJ Entertainment, 129 mins.

What the Frak?

Who knew revenge could be so bloody boring. Now I've seen plenty of revenge movies, and I understand that there needs to be a certain amount of charact
er development and creation of tension. However, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance simply basks in them, creating two distinct hours dedicated for each character, while the entire story could be accomplished (without losing any of the emotional impact, I guarantee) in a far tighter version.

Telling a story of cause & effect, we first meet Ryu, a deaf-mute who tries to buy a kidney for his desperately ill sister after finding that he's not a right match. So he channels the black market, paying a group $10,000 (10,000,000 Korean won) for a kidney, but they vacate leaving Ryu naked and stranded. And its at this juncture that the doctors tell him that they found a donor, but need $10,000, the money he doesn't have. With the help of his radical friend Yeong-mi, they devise a plan to kidnap the daughter of a friend's boss for ransom, but that goes to hell as his sister kills herself for not wanting to take part of the plan, and the little girl accidentally drowning as he's putting his sisters body to rest. While Ryu tries to handle the situation and find the people who stole his money, we now meet Dong-jin, the angry father who makes it his mission to find the man responsible for his daughter's death and punish him.

Sounds really cool, right? Well, it could have been a very good movie, if it didn't feel like it dragged on forever. Sure, the cinematography, as well documented by nearly every reviewer, is simply beautiful; it's pretty much award worthy. But being so in love with the shots and the performances (which I concede are great, but aren't captivating enough to warrant 4-minute long shots of a distraught father) should not impede a editor from doing their job.
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance could highly benefit from editing, and then I think this movie truly would be perfect. Director Park Chan-wook's interest in time-jumping/scene-jumping is also at full display here, oftentimes becoming a little confusing or simply irritating. Although this sounds like a overly negative review, I did not hate the movie, I just didn't enjoy it as much as I should. There are some great things to love about this movie, and deservedly so as everything is done with such a high caliber of excellence, but its poor pacing really deters the enjoyment level. The performances are top-notch, the dialog witty, the music moody, and the direction stylish. Despite the pacing issue, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance still comes recommended, but I would rate this one the lesser awesomest of the Vengeance Trilogy.

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